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Other titles in the Phoenix Fiction series:
Loving Little Egyptby Thomas McMahon
Winner of the 1988 Rosenthal Award from the American Academy Arts and Letters
Synopses & Reviews
Thomas McMahon's extraordinary novel is an adventure story the way Huckleberry Finn and the Horatio Alger books are adventure stories, a romance the way Scott Fitzgerald's boy-meets-girl stories are romances. It's about a young man named Mourly Vold, a nearly blind physics prodigy who in the early 1920s discovers a way to tap into the long-distance telephone lines and set up a communications network with other blind people nationwide — to the horror of William Randolph Hearst (who believes they're part of a Mexican anarchist plot to infiltrate the U.S.) and with the blessing of Alexander Graham Bell (who with his deaf wife, Mable, becomes a kind of mentor and foster father to Mourly).
How Mourly falls into, and then escapes, the clutches of the robber barons who control the telephone system; how he decides, regretfully, to renounce the haven of the Bells' Cape Breton retreat and strike out on his own; how he finds love on a bus through West Virginia; how he and his motley crew join forces with the eccentric, pigeon-fancying physicist Nikola Tesla to outwit Hearst and his crony Thomas Edison, and exact a fitting vengeance from them — all this, and more, forms an enthralling tale that is made even more alluring by McMahon's blending of narrative with scientific and philosophical insight and trivia, and by the frequent intrusions of "real" historical characters like the Bells, Edison, Hearst, Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, and others.
Funny, wistful, surprisingly erotic, and endlessly fascinating, Loving Little Egypt begins like a fairy tale, builds to a thumping climax, and ends with a marriage feast. It is a magnificent achievement, the work of a dazzlingly talented and humane writer who has reached his prime.
"A dazzling and heart-warming display of scientific derring-do....It will steal your heart." Glamour
"Imagine E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime rewritten by a mellower, comically more benevolent Thomas Pynchon and you might have a novel something like this one....An intriguing and enjoyable romp by the author of McKay's Bees." Library Journal
"A hilarious, wonderful book!" Tracy Kidder
In the early 1920s, nearly blind physics prodigy Mourly Vold finds out how to tap into the nation's long distance telephone lines. With the help of Alexander Graham Bell, Vold tries to warn the phone companies that would-be saboteurs could do the same thing, but they ignore him. Unfortunately, his taps do catch the notice of William Randolph Hearst, who hires Thomas Edison to get to the bottom of them—and the chase is on!
About the Author
Thomas McMahon (1943 1999) was the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Mechanics and professor of biology at Harvard University. He is the author of McKay's Bees and Principles of American Nuclear Chemistry, both published by the University of Chicago Press, as well as the posthumous novel, Ira Foxglove.
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